GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – If you’ve been avoiding getting a colonoscopy because you just don’t like the sound of it or you’ve bought into some common myths surrounding the procedure, one local woman says it’s time to “Get Your Rear in Gear.”
“I think that I always thought I wasn’t old enough to have something wrong because people always said, ‘When you hit 50 you get a colonoscopy,’” recalled Sherwood’s Laurie Jansen.
Like many of us, Jansen thought colon cancer was something she didn’t need to worry about yet at only age 45. When something didn’t seem right after she went to the bathroom, though, she made sure to get it checked out anyway.
“I thought I should go to the doctor and find out what’s what,” Jansen said.
Not only was Jansen shocked to learn she had cancer, the treatment plan and lifetime impact that came with it were tough to face.
“The news I got was I would have part of my colon and rectum removed and I would have an ostomy bag and I would have radiation and chemo,” Jansen remembered.
Jansen is a survivor, however, and was determined to cope with whatever was necessary to beat her cancer.
“The bag option was scary, but I’m like, if I live that’s fine,” she said. “I felt like one option wasn’t good enough though.”
Fortunately, Dr. Erik Johnson with Aurora BayCare Medical center had another option.
“Because she caught it early, we did not have to do the ostomy bag and because there were no lymph nodes involved, we didn’t need chemo or radiation,” Johnson explained.
Johnson was able to surgically remove Jansen’s cancerous growth and successfully reconnect her digestive tract with no further intervention. Once healed, Jansen was able resume her normal, active lifestyle.
“Whenever I see him, I get teary eyed because I’m so happy,” Jansen said. “He gave me so much.”
Now, both Jansen and Dr. Johnson are on a mission to spread awareness about the importance of early detection through a coloscopy screening.
“Most of these cancers can be prevented if caught early,” Johnson pointed out. “Just like in Laurie’s case. She caught it early and now she’s cured.”
In fact, they’ll be walking side-by-side this weekend at the annual “Get Your Rear in
Gear” colon cancer awareness 5k run/walk being held right on Aurora BayCare’s Green Bay campus.
“It’s just so good to see survivors like Laurie come to the event,” Johnson said. “It’s also healing for families, if they’ve lost someone or have colon cancer in their families.”
Jansen says she understands people’s hesitation about getting a colonoscopy but she’s here to dispel any myths and is living proof that colonoscopies save lives.
“Look at it as a cleanse and go get it done,” Jansen advised. “You don’t feel a thing.”
Dr. Johnson also cautions against the temptation many feel to use a mail-in test kit, like Cologuard®.
“Cologuard® detects cancer but not polyps, so it’s almost too late,” Johnson explained. “We want to test for polyps before they become cancer. If we find a polyp, we can remove it and prevent colon cancer.”
Current guidelines recommend people get a colonoscopy at age 45. Johnson points out that if your test comes back clear you don’t even have to worry about it for another decade.
A decade, and many to follow, that Jansen’s looking forward to being around to enjoy.
“I’m back to biking and doing everything that I normally like to do,” she said.
If you’d like to take part in the “Get Your Rear in Gear” 5k run/walk, there’s still time to register.